ACEMCO HOPES TO KEEP MAKING GT1 GAINS IN SALEEN S7R AT PORTLAND GRAND PRIX Braselton, Ga. - There may be some drama in GT1 during the second half of the American Le Mans Series, after all. ACEMCO Motorsports and its No. 63 Saleen S7R are coming...
ACEMCO HOPES TO KEEP MAKING GT1 GAINS IN SALEEN S7R AT PORTLAND GRAND PRIX
Braselton, Ga. - There may be some drama in GT1 during the second half of the American Le Mans Series, after all. ACEMCO Motorsports and its No. 63 Saleen S7R are coming into the Portland Grand Prix, Round 6 of the 2005 ALMS, with podium finishes in its last three events.
Drivers Terry Borcheller and Johnny Mowlem hope to continue that streak and chase down Corvette Racing's two factory C6-Rs next weekend at Portland. In the last ALMS round at Infineon Raceway, Mowlem qualified the Saleen third in class, only 0.3 seconds behind the pole-sitting Corvette of Ron Fellows and Johnny O'Connell. Borcheller and Mowlem went on to finish on the same lap as the two Corvettes and again bested the No. 35 factory Maserati MC12.
"We're definitely getting closer to (the factory Corvettes), if not exactly running them down," Mowlem said. "What happened at Infineon was based on a number of characteristics. The track suited the Saleen with fast corners, fast transitions and heavy braking areas. But I also believe that all the hard work the team has been doing all season got us finally to a point where the whole package just came together."
The Saleen, along with GT1 cars from Maserati, Pacific Coast Motorsports and Carsport America, benefited from different air restrictors allowed by IMSA, the sanctioning body of the ALMS. It seemed to have helped the ACEMCO Saleen more as it made the biggest gain among the affected cars during the weekend.
"Johnny had a really good lap in qualifying," Borcheller said. "The car actually was tuned for qualifying. In the race, we had a little too much oversteer, so we did have a little bit of a handling issue. If you look at the race pace, as soon as I started doing 1:29s, they went into the low 1:29s. They seemed to be able to match us and then some.
"The restrictor, in theory, should have given us about 25 horsepower more," Borcheller added. "At Infineon we were able to get about 15, so there is about 5-10 more available if we can get everything tweaked together."
Said Mowlem, "I think we found about a second at Sears Point in qualifying, probably three quarters of a second in the race per lap. I think its fantastic IMSA is trying to help and make the field more level. But people shouldn't forget that the factory Maserati and the privateer C5 were also given a break on the air restrictor and yet we were the only team at Sears Point to make a significant step forward. This shows therefore that a lot of that progress is coming from ACEMCO's own team performance. We're not about to go out and wipe the floor with the Corvettes just yet, but at least at Sonoma we were in their ballpark!"
That's a good sign for a Saleen design that is four years old, yet remains extremely popular with ALMS fans because of its sleek design, rumbling Elan powerplant and reliability over the years. "If you look at the commitment (team owner) Jeff (Giangrande) has given to the program and the money, he has shown far more commitment in all areas than any other team that runs a Saleen," Mowlem said. "Nobody has taken the car and developed it like Jeff. He constantly is doing things and trying to make it more reliabile and make it faster. He is running the best Saleen in the world right now. There is no doubt about it."
The ACEMCO team also is one of the top privateer efforts in the history of GT1, backed up by its performances in speed and endurance, Borcheller said.
"There are no privateer teams that are close to our teams right now," Borcheller added. "That speaks a lot about the job Jeff and the team is doing. When you look at the other privateers, we're doing very well. Also when you look at the factory Maserati, they were going to come over here and run with the Corvettes, and they haven't done it yet."
The next round of the American Le Mans Series is the Portland Grand Prix set for July 28-30 at Portland International Raceway. The race will be broadcast live on SPEED Channel from 8 to 11 p.m. EDT July 30, the first time an ALMS race has been broadcast in prime time. Qualifying is scheduled for 2:55 to 3:40 p.m. PDT on Friday. Live Timing and Scoring will be available at www.americanlemans.com.